New federal guidelines call for reopening of nursing homes, but when will that happen in Ohio?

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 8:07 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Since mid-March, thousands of families across Northeast Ohio have been begging to see their loved ones living inside nursing homes.

Newly released federal guidelines say this can happen immediately.

Paula Mueller is hoping these changes do in fact happen. Mueller, a front-and-center advocate for the elderly, has witnessed families hit several roadblocks.

She’s told 19 News time and time again, “People feel isolated and it’s causing them to mentally decline.”

For months, state leaders have been calling the shots, but Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a new roadmap for nursing home visitations. These are supposed to replace the state regulations.

The new guidelines still include safety protocols like temperature checks, masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene.

The county’s COVID-19 positivity rate must also fall below 10 percent in order to have indoor visits.

Mueller says these federal guidelines do provide good news for families desperate to see a loved one, but she’s already received calls from families saying they were denied indoor visitation.

According to the new guidelines, facilities have 30 days to make sure staff and management are aware of these changes.

If a facility denies visitors without a reasonable health or safety concern, CMS says it could be fined.

As of now, outdoor visitations are still preferred here in Ohio. With the cold weather just around the corner, Gov, Mike DeWine was questioned about loosening restrictions at his Thursday news briefing.

He said, “We know that winter will come, eventually, as we don’t want it to come and so we’re now working on how visitation can take place inside.”

19 News reached out again Friday to DeWine’s office and the Ohio Department of Health.

We want to know if these new federal guidelines will in fact replace the state ones as CMS’s memo states. We have not yet heard back.

Stay with 19 News for updates on this story.

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